Today’s zeitgeist dictates that everything should be interpreted in economic terms in order to make sense in our times, even the term happiness! Walt Whitman, the American poet, wrote “happiness, not in another place but in this place … not for another hour, but this hour”. This quotation is going hand in hand with the economist Maynard Keynes’s belief that it needs immediate actions whatever concerns the economics:
“In the long run we are all dead”.
This year, except the never-ending economic crisis other awful things happened in Europe and around the world – Ukrainian, Syria… and religious terrorism. But again, we’ve noticed people react and show an unprecedented courage and resilience when there is the right leadership to support them. The obscure and weak French president Hollande had shown amazing leadership skills by inviting all the leaders in Paris to march along with 3.7 millions of people in the name of free speech. The movement of “Je suis Charlie” has more connotations other than in the name of free of speech that had been analysed extensively on the media. In this occasion, I fully agree and support what Woody Allen said :
“Life becomes so painful at times that there’s a need to slip a barrier of comedy between you and it”.
Returning to the issue of economic crisis which has swept away the last trace of happiness from the Greeks and the rest southern Europeans, there is a glimpse of good news. There is a big movement “pro Greece’ in Europe and in the circles of intellectuals and economists who have studied history in depth and they are in position to compare the past with the present. Gillian Tett(Columnist of the year 2014) referred to the conference she had attended last summer, where the economist Benjamin Friedman gave a brief history on debt forgiveness without mentioning at all the word Greece, but obviously all the attendants knew very well what he meant. He said :
“Germany was one of the greatest beneficiaries throughout the last century: on multiple occasions (1924,1929,1932,1953). There is no economic ground for Germany to be the only European country in modern times to be granted official debt relief on a massive scale and certainly no moral ground either. In Europe, the mood is so punitive that is akin to the 19th century retributive philosophy that created debtors prisons. Default is deemed immoral.” (A debt to history? by Gillian Tett, FT weekend magazine 17/1/15)
She added that officials from Europe’s periphery nations were even more indignant.To them, Germany faced a moral duty to help places as Greece, given the aid that it had previously enjoyed as Friedman mentioned above.
Therefore, there is a bit of good news for this year since the crucial election in Greece looms and things and changes can happen.The support exists, what Greece needs is a good leadership to make the most of this support. Francois Hollande showed the way : When there is a good cause everybody follows. The Greeks and the new government after the elections on January 25th, have to show to the world that they can tackle the corruption and the rest will fall into place.
When there is hope there is happiness! Happy New Year to all!